Partners roll a ‘Seven’

Retelling part of MGM/M'max eight-pic co-prod'n pact

Miramax Films and MGM will co-produce a contemporary retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s classic saga of dueling Japanese warlords, “The Seven Samurai.”

Under the deal, part of an eight-pic co-production pact between the two companies, MGM will distribute domestically, Miramax internationally.

“Seven Samurai,” one of the Japanese auteur’s most influential films, first got the Hollywood treatment in 1960, when John Sturges remade the pic as a Western, “The Magnificent Seven,” with an all-star cast, including Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson.

In the Kurosawa pic, which was nominated for two Oscars, a poor village besieged by marauding bandits hires seven samurai warriors to defend them, offering only handfuls of rice as payment.

MGM and Miramax haven’t yet determined whether the remake will be set in Asia, the West, or some other contemporary context.

” ‘The Seven Samurai’ is a wonderful film full of unforgettable imagery, amazing performances and brilliant direction,” said MGM prexy Michael Nathanson. “It’s an incredibly rich source material and lends itself perfectly to a modern retelling.”

Miramax co-topper Harvey Weinstein added, “Not only is ‘The Seven Samurai’ one of my favorite movies of all time, but it is the mother of all ‘guys on a mission’ movies, and I’m thrilled to be working with our partners at MGM in bringing it into the 21st century.”

Louis Anderman, Miramax vice president of creative affairs, brought the project into the company and will oversee it with Weinstein and co-prexy of production Bob Osher.

The eight-pic MGM and Miramax pact involves full sharing of production and marketing funding and shared worldwide theatrical and ancillary market revenues. The first project to be produced under the agreement is Anthony Minghella’s next pic, “Cold Mountain.”

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